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Wolfe says J'boro 3-cent tax hike neutral, not increase

Nathan Baker • Jul 28, 2014 at 9:37 PM

In passing the town’s $6.3 million fiscal year 2014-15 budget, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen technically approved a 3-cent property tax rate increase, but hurriedly emphasized the measure was taken to compensate for property value adjustments and wasn’t functionally an increase.

After a countywide reassessment of property values, the town’s overall values decreased slightly, resulting in an increase in the certified tax rate from $1.2810 to $1.3105 per $100 of assessed value.

While the rate is changing, Mayor Kelly Wolfe was quick to point out that the new rate is not a tax increase.

“It will in effect give us a net neutral tax take as far as property taxes go,” the mayor said. “We’re not proposing a tax increase, this is the state-certified rate based on new assessed values that the reappraisal year produced.”

While overall appraised property values fell across the town, Wolfe acknowledged that in some cases, residents’ tax bills may increase, but again stressed that as an effect of the revaluation year.

“If your assessment went up, if the assessor went to your house and visited and said your house is (worth) more than it used to be, then your taxes might go up, but that’s not something our town board’s done, that’s the county,” he said.

The budget was supposed to be approved last month, but Jonesborough has been operating on last year’s budget since the board put adopting a fiscal plan on hold to await the results of the county’s reappraisal.

In that June meeting, the aldermen voted to raise water and sewer rates to help pay back some of the debt on $11.5 million in recent system improvements.

The board unanimously approved the budget, which allocates $1.4 million for police services, $1.1 million for general administration, $895,000 for street maintenance and $892,000 for the parks and recreation department, the four costliest departments.

Fire services were budgeted at $535,780.

With the budget, the aldermen also approved a 5 percent increase in employee pay with a new compensation plan, a factor that Wolfe said has kept the town from being a “training ground” for other municipalities’ police departments.

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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